5 beautiful spots not to miss in the Algarve
The Algarve: people also see it as the Costa Brava or Côte d’Azur of Portugal. And yes, it’s a very touristic region. One of which I had very limited expectations, I have to admit. But during my visit I suddenly noticed what the Algarve has to offer for people who don’t want just sun and beaches during their holiday (like me, with my transparent skin and beach-phobia). The Algarve is packed with beautiful spots and interesting history. Here are the five experience you can’t miss!
Not counting the two days I hardly saw anything of Portugal (except for cars, planes and airports) I had five full days in the Algarve. A region I didn’t know and highly underestimated. I thought it would be nothing more than seaside resorts with concrete buildings, beaches full of wrinkly elderly people and terraces with average fish meals (looking at you, certain parts of Spain). But I couldn’t be more wrong. In five days I crossed across half the Algarve, admired rough and impressive nature, and I discovered a fascinating and for a big part unknown history of this magical area.
Looking at low flying planes with the wind in your hair. Wandering along a real nature park. Shivering in a fascinating bone chapel. Tasting the Portugese cuisine in the inner city. Lying at the beach of Faro, or just going shopping in the shopping street. Faro has it all. It’s a regional city with lots of lost glory, even more history and beautiful nature.
Though I’m not a beach girl and get restless if I have to lie still for more than an hour, you simply cannot miss the beaches when visiting the Algarve. I went to two of them. Praia donna Ana (in Lagos) and Praia Carvoeiro (in Carvoeiro). The latter is located in the centre of the town of Carvoeiro, but if you expect a boring sandy beach you’re wrong! Closed off in between dangerous, beetling rocks with little white houses you’ll find a tiny beach, with a lovely warm sea to swim in. During the summer it’s probably really busy, but in low season it’s nice and calm. Praia Donna Ana in Lagos is a magical little beach as well. With protruding sand rocks, caves and bright blue water the place almost seems exotic. While you’re here, you can also make the trip to see the stunning Benagil Cave.
Cabo Sao Vincente & Sagres
Rough cliffs, ferocious waves and seagulls screeching over your head. A red lighthouse marks the most southwestern point of Europe. That’s Cabo Sao Vincente. A bit further on you’ll find the fortress of Sagres, its century old church and a few plant species you’ll only find here and nowhere else in the world. The views in this place are miraculous and had me lost for words. Nature in its purest form.
At first glance this seems like a small and quiet town. Only when you see the big church and the Moorish castle in the distance, you start to suspect it’s not. But if you didn’t know, this place would be a ruinous and aged Portugese village, like many others. But Silves actually used to be the capital of the Algarve about 1000 years ago. It started to bloom when the Arabic kings were reigning, and was even called the Bagdad of the West.
Discover the Arade & the hinterland
Just give me red sands, arid bushes and half dead trees and I’m happy. I quite like rough nature. But the hinterland of the Algarve is so much more. Hills covered in vineyards, with a fertile river (the Arade) in the valley which cuts right through the area. Wander around in the area of Silves and you might just spot flamingos like I did. Phenomenal.